What is Public Dialogue?

When I was directing the Institute for Public Dialogue at The Relational Center in Los Angeles, CA, that was a question I was often asked.  Public Dialogue is when groups of people need to come together for complex and demanding conversations about interests they share.  Structured dialogic practices make a much richer exchange possible. The structures I use are based in my experience and knowledge encompassing a variety of practices.  My application of those practices is grounded in Relational Gestalt and Relational Constructionist theory and practice.  Some examples of Public Dialogues I’ve done include several within organizations.  These were designed to develop organizational practices that were more consistent with their mission, to design new projects, to redesign staffing and staff functions, to develop training models and to turn rancorous conflict into a positive direction.  Other dialogues have been done with communities to bridge long standing ruptures and build paths forward on the basis of shared values and aspirations.

There are many public dialogue practices in which I am trained and which I have implemented.  This week I have the opportunity to be a part of an Art of Hosting in Portland, Oregon.  The elements of this approach are very familiar to me.  The way Art of Hosting combines these elements and the flow it creates has a special effect.  I look forward to meeting new colleagues and learning more.



When are women heard?

In my conversations with women leaders one of the common threads I hear is that their colleagues don’t listen to them.  Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote about this in the New York Times on January 12. Their article is entitled “Speaking While Female: Why Women Stay Quiet at Work”.  I highly recommend it.  Since then Kathleen Edison has published a graphic to address this situation.  Her graphic, 7Ways to Combat ‘Manterrupting’ can be found at  The steps are

  1. First acknowledge gender bias
  2. Establish no interrupt rules for everyone in a conversation
  3. Practice bystander intervention
  4. Create a buddy system
  5. Support female colleagues

I encourage you to see the graphic for the smart and funny way it addresses this factor of Manterrupting.

For the women readers, what methods have you found effective in combating Manterrupting?

For my male readers, what experiences have made you aware of this factor?


Relational Leading

In the Taos Institute January newsletter,,  David Cooperrider talks about Relational Leading.  In this piece he quotes Peter Drucker, “‘Leadership is about creating an alignment of strengths making people’s weaknesses irrelevant.’ This, it seems, would require an appreciative eye…”  Cooperrider is emphasizing appreciation as a fundamental element of Relational Leading.  In my experience it is a necessary factor in developing strengths.  A focus on appreciation and the development of strengths builds individual capacity within the context of a network of relationships.  It is never the individual that makes the difference.  It is always the relational context.

What is your experience being appreciated?  When that happened, how did it affect your development?